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Greg Daniels

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Greg Daniels

Greg Daniels
Born Gregory Martin Daniels
(1963-06-13) June 13, 1963
West Hollywood, California
Occupation Screenwriter
Television producer
Nationality American
Period 1987–present
Genre Comedy
Notable works Not Necessarily the News
Saturday Night Live
King of the Hill
The Office
Parks and Recreation
The Simpsons
Notable awards
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
Spouse Susanne Dari (Lieberstein) Daniels (1991-present; 4 children)
Relatives Paul Lieberstein (brother-in-law)

Gregory Martin "Greg" Daniels (born June 13, 1963) is an American television comedy writer, producer, and director. He is known for his work on several television series, including Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, King of the Hill and The Office. All four shows were named among Time '​s James Poniewozik's All Time 100 TV Shows.[1] Daniels attended Harvard University and he became friends with Conan O'Brien. Their first writing credit was for Not Necessarily the News, before they were laid off due to budget cuts. He eventually became a writer for two long-running series: Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons.

He joined the writing staff of The Simpsons during the fifth season, and he wrote several classic episodes including "Lisa's Wedding," "Bart Sells His Soul" and "22 Short Films About Springfield." He left the series in order to co-create another long-running animated series, King of the Hill, with Mike Judge. The series ran for thirteen years before it was cancelled in 2009. During the series run, he worked on several other series, including The Office and Parks and Recreation. Currently, Daniels is working on new shows, and is developing another British adaptation for NBC.

Early life and work

Daniels is the son of Judy, who worked at the New York Public Library, and Aaron Daniels, who was president of ABC Radio Network.[2] He has stated that he became interested in comedy by watching Monty Python's Flying Circus as a child, as well as by reading books by humorist S. J. Perelman at age 11.[3] His first joke was a Carnac the Entertainer joke for his father which was later used for The Office episode, "The Dundies."[4] Daniels attended Phillips Exeter Academy and then Harvard University where he wrote for the Harvard Lampoon with Conan O'Brien.[5] After graduating in 1984, the two accepted jobs at Not Necessarily the News, but they were soon fired due to budget cuts.[5] The two later met Lorne Michaels in the late 1987 and they were given a three week try-out in the Saturday Night Live writing staff.[5] While on the staff, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.[6] Daniels left the writing staff in 1990, three years after joining it.


The Simpsons and King of the Hill (1993–2009)

Daniels joined the writing staff of The Simpsons in 1993. He was hired in the fifth season following the departures of many of the original team of writers.[7] His first day also coincided with O'Brien's last day on the series.[8] When he initially joined the series, he believed the series had gone past the "glory years" and that he had "missed the boat."[9] In the fifth season, Daniels penned "Homer and Apu," "Secrets of a Successful Marriage" and "The Devil and Homer Simpson" segment of "Treehouse of Horror IV." Daniels received an Emmy nomination in the "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics" category for the song "Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart?" from "Homer and Apu".[6] For season six, he wrote "Homer Badman," "Lisa's Wedding," and the "Time and Punishment" segment from "Treehouse of Horror V." The latter episode became the third of the series to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.[6] In the seventh season, Daniels wrote "Bart Sells His Soul," which was based on a childhood experience.[10] His final credit for the series was for "22 Short Films About Springfield," which he served as supervising writer alongside show runner Josh Weinstein. They were given the responsibility of linking all the stories together.[11]

Daniels left The Simpsons to work on King of the Hill alongside Mike Judge.[12] Daniels rewrote the pilot script and created several important characters that did not appear in Judge's first draft (including Luanne and Cotton), as well as some characterization ideas (e.g., making Dale Gribble a conspiracy theorist).[13] Daniels also took the writers to Texas to do some research with reporter notebooks, a process he would use for The Office and Parks and Recreation.[14] Judge was ultimately so pleased with Daniels' contributions that he chose to credit him as a co-creator, rather than give him the "developer" credit usually reserved for individuals brought on to a pilot written by someone else.[13] During the fifth and sixth seasons, Judge and Daniels became less involved with the show.[13] They eventually focused on the show again, although Daniels steadily became more involved with other projects.[13]

The Office and Parks and Recreation (2005–present)

In 2005, Daniels adapted the popular BBC mockumentary series The Office for American audiences. The series premiered to low ratings and negative reviews,[15][16] so the writers worked to make it more "optimistic" and make the lead character, Michael Scott, more likable.[17] The second season was better received and it was named the second best TV series of 2006 by James Poniewozik, writing that "Producer Greg Daniels created not a copy but an interpretation that sends up distinctly American work conventions [...] with a tone that's more satiric and less mordant. [...] The new boss is different from the old boss, and that's fine by me."[18] He gave the acceptance speech at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards when the American version of The Office won the award for Outstanding Comedy Series, and he received an award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.[19][20]

Following the success of The Office, Ben Silverman asked Daniels to create a spin-off for the series.[21] After considering several ideas, Daniels and co-creator Michael Schur eventually decided that the series would not get a spin-off because Daniels and Schur "couldn't find the right fit."[21][22] After Amy Poehler agreed to play the lead, they decided the show would revolve around an optimistic bureaucrat in small-town government.[22] The premise of Parks and Recreation was partly inspired by the portrayal of local politics on the HBO drama series The Wire, as well as the renewed interest in and optimism about politics stemming from the 2008 United States presidential election.[23] The series initially received negative reviews, much like The Office in the first season, while later seasons would receive critical acclaim.[24][25] For four years, he split his time between The Office and Parks and Rec,[26] before eventually returning as full-time showrunner for The Office for its ninth and final season.[27][28]

Future projects (2012)

Daniels recently made a deal with NBC to produce several series for Universal Television.[29] He also developed the British series Friday Night Dinner for American audiences.[29] The remake was picked up for a pilot, which was written by Daniels and directed by Ken Kwapis,[30] and featured Allison Janney and Tony Shalhoub as the mother and father.[31] The pilot was eventually not picked up for series.[32] He is also teaming with Mindy Kaling and Alan Yang to work on two differing animated series for NBC[29] and has recently made a deal to executive produce a new pilot written by Office writer Owen Ellickson and starring Office cast member Craig Robinson.[33]

Personal life

Daniels met Susanne Dari Lieberstein while she was answering phones at Saturday Night Live for Lorne Michaels.[34] They eventually married and had four children; Maya, Charlotte, Haley, and Owen.[34] She is the sister to Paul Lieberstein, writer for King of the Hill and the replacement showrunner of The Office for Daniels.[35] He is also the brother-in-law to Office writer Warren Lieberstein and Office cast member Angela Kinsey until her divorce in 2010.



Daniels work has received mainly positive reception. Out of the six TV series that Daniels has worked on, four of them--Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, King of the Hill and The Office--were named among Time reviewer James Poniewozik's All Time 100 TV Shows.[1] His work on The Simpsons has received acclaim from critics and fans. Two of his episodes, "Bart Sells His Soul" and "22 Short Films About Springfield," were listed among the show's creative team's top five favorite episodes in 2003.[36][37] Series creator Matt Groening and executive producer James L. Brooks have named his episodes among their favorites.[38][39] Other staff members and several critics have praised his work.[40][41][42] His other animated series and his first credit as a creator, King of the Hill, has received positive reviews as well. IGN named it the 27th best animated television series, and the site mainly complimented the series for its subtle character humor.[43] The series currently ranks as the third-longest running animated television series, after The Simpsons and South Park.

No one seems to nail these characters like Daniels does. It was a daunting challenge to write off Michael in a way that was emotionally satisfying, true to the spirit of the show, but also funny. Daniels expertly walked that tightrope, and threw in some treats for longtime fans as well.

Cindy White, IGN[44]

His next television series, The Office, ranked as NBC's highest rated show for a majority of its run, according to the Nielsen ratings.[45] The series has also been put on several top series lists by many publications including Time,[1][18][46] BuddyTV,[47] Metacritic,[48] The Washington Post,[49] and Paste.[50] His writing credits for the series are often considered the best of the series.[44][51][52][53] Despite its early acclaim, later seasons have received criticism for a dip in quality, notably after Daniels was less involved.[54][55][56] Daniels' next series, Parks and Recreation, has been called "the smartest comedy on TV" by Entertainment Weekly.[57]


Daniels has received several awards and nominations. He has been nominated for twenty Emmys and has won four. Those wins are for: Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program for his work on Saturday Night Live, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for the Simpsons episode, "Lisa's Wedding," Outstanding Comedy Series for The Office and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for The Office: Gay Witch Hunt.[6] Daniels was also awarded Austin Film Festival's Outstanding Television Writer Award in 2008.



  1. ^ a b c Poniewozik, James (May 6, 2005). (American)"The Office".  
  2. ^ "Susanne Dari Lieberstein Is Engaged". New York Times. June 23, 1991. 
  3. ^ Martin, Denise (2009-11-18). "Making bureaucracy work: How NBC's "Parks and Recreation" overcame bad buzz".  
  4. ^ "'"Writing 'The Office.  
  5. ^ a b c Stated on Inside the Actors Studio by Conan O'Brien, 2009
  6. ^ a b c d "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  7. ^ Mirkin, David (2004). The Simpsons season 5 DVD commentary for the episode "Burns' Heir" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  8. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2006-08-30). "Conan O'Brien | TV | Interview". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  9. ^ Siegel, Robert; Block, Melissa (February 17, 2012). "After 23 Years, 'Simpsons' Hits 500th Episode".  
  10. ^ Weinstein, Josh (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Bart Sells His Soul" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  11. ^ Reardon, Jim (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Seventh Season DVD commentary for the episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  12. ^ "'"Milestone: 'King of the Hill. May 11, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  13. ^ a b c d Weinman, Jaime (October 31, 2008). "A Brief History of King of the Hill". Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  14. ^ "Greg Daniels, Part II: Long Skinny Notebooks, and The Five-To-One". June 21, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
  15. ^ Wollaston, Sam. You just can't get the staff. Guardian Unlimited, 2005-06-15. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.
  16. ^ Timms, Dominic. scores ratings victory.The OfficeU.S. version of Guardian Unlimited, 2005-03-29. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.
  17. ^ Novak, B.J. (Writer). 2006. "The Dundies" [Commentary track], The Office Season Two (US/NBC Version) [DVD], Los Angeles, CA: Universal.
  18. ^ a b Poniewozik, James. "Best of 2005: Television." Time, 2005-12-06. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.
  19. ^ Greg Daniels NBC, retrieved January 29, 2008
  20. ^ The 58th Primetime Emmy Awards and Creative Arts Emmys Nominations The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, retrieved June 22, 2008
  21. ^ a b  
  22. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (March 26, 2009). "It’s Not ‘The Office.’ The Boss Is a Woman.".  
  23. ^ Martin, Denise (November 18, 2009). "Making bureaucracy work: How NBC's "Parks and Recreation" overcame bad buzz".  
  24. ^  
  25. ^ Havrilesky, Heather (November 4, 2009). "When did "Parks and Recreation" get so funny?".  
  26. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (September 29, 2011). "How a Parks and Recreation pitch becomes a joke, part 1: Inside the writers room".  
  27. ^ Carter, Bill; Elliot, Stuart (May 14, 2012). "Comedies Lead the Way for the Next TV Season".  
  28. ^ Weisman, Jon (July 5, 2012). "Greg Daniels and the future of 'The Office' - The Vote on".  
  29. ^ a b c Andreeva, Nellie (December 7, 2011). "Greg Daniels Teams With Mindy Kaling & Alan Yang For Animated Projects At NBC".  
  30. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 3, 2012). "Ken Kwapis Set To Direct NBC Pilot 'Friday Night Dinner', Reunites With Greg Daniels".  
  31. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 7, 2012). "'"Allison Janney & Tony Shalhoub To Star In Greg Daniels' NBC Pilot 'Friday Night Dinner.  
  32. ^ The Ripple Effects of the Killed 2012 Pilots
  33. ^ Gelman, Vlada (October 20, 2012). "Craig Robinson Cast in Greg Daniels Comedy Pilot".  
  34. ^ a b The Girl Power success story of Susanne Daniels
  35. ^ 2006 interview with Paul Lieberstein by Daniel Robert Epstein, at the SuicideGirls website
  36. ^ McMullen, Marion (April 19, 2003). "WEEKEND: WEEKEND TV: Woo-hoo! - 300 and not out — The Simpsons Creative Team's Top Five Episodes".   (archived at HighBeam Research)
  37. ^ Mayer, Cathy (April 19, 2003). "There's no business like Doh! business".   (archived at HighBeam Research)
  38. ^ Porter, Rick ( (April 28, 2005). "Groening ponders the future of 'The Simpsons'". Southern Illinoisan. p. 7C. 
  39. ^ Brooks, James L. (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Wedding" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  40. ^ Oakes, Keily (July 30, 2004). "Voice of Bart Simpson steps into limelight". BBC. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  41. ^ Enwright, Patrick (2007-07-31). "D’Oh! The top 10 ‘Simpsons’ episodes ever".  
  42. ^ Snierson, Dan (March 24, 2006). "Best in D'oh". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  43. ^ "IGN - 27. King of the Hill". IGN. Retrieved December 28, 2011. 
  44. ^ a b White, Cindy (April 29, 2011). "The Office: "Goodbye, Michael" Review". IGN. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  45. ^ "The Office: Ratings for the 2011-12 TV Season". TV Series Finale. November 19, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  46. ^ Poniewozik, James. Top 10 Returning TV Series. Time. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.
  47. ^ "Top Ten Comedies on TV: #1 The Office".  
  48. ^ "The Best TV Shows of 2009 ... and the Decade".  
  49. ^ Struever, Hank (December 9, 2011). "Hank Stuever’s 10 best (and 1 worst) TV shows of 2011".  
  50. ^ Jackson, Josh (April 29, 2010). "The 10 Best Sitcoms on TV Right Now". Paste. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  51. ^ McNutt, Myles (April 28, 2011). "Goodbye, Michael". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  52. ^ "The Office All-Time Fan Favorite Poll, 2011". OfficeTally. September 24, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  53. ^ By BuddyTV. "BuddyTV Slideshow | TV's 50 Best Episodes of 2009". Retrieved December 14, 2011. 
  54. ^ McNutt, Myles (September 3, 2011). "Doomsday".  
  55. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (September 10, 2011). "Review: The Office struggles to find its center post-Steve Carell".  
  56. ^ Paskin, Willa (December 5, 2011). "TV’s Ten Most Annoying Characters - Vulture".  
  57. ^ Snierson, Dan (February 10, 2001). "'"This week's cover: 101 Reasons to Love 'Parks and Recreation.  

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